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Identity by Zoë Blade

Produced by Al Haines

[Illustration: Cover art]

Identity

A short story by Zoe Blade

(C) 2008 Zoe Blade. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

"Flat-chested Faye, flat-chested Faye," chanted the girls on the table next to Faye and Rebecca's. The large hall smelled of cabbages, potatoes and baked beans, and everyone else was talking and eating and moving chairs so loudly that Faye could hardly hear herself think.

"Just ignore them," suggested Rebecca.

Faye didn't say anything. She opened her lunchbox and fished around in her deep blazer pockets for her medication. She teased a pill out of the bottle and washed it down with some orange squash from her Helen Fryer thermos flask.

"It's not healthy to have secrets, you know." Rebecca peered across at her, trying to make out the label on the bottle.

"They're called antiandrogens." Faye slipped the bottle back into her pocket. "I told you, I have a hormonal imbalance, that's all." It wasn't even a white lie, she told herself. It was just being vague.

"Is that why you haven't... you know... developed yet?" Rebecca took a bite out of her sandwich.

"It's not healthy to be so pushy, either." Faye forced herself to start eating her lunch; she wasn't feeling hungry.

"Sorry," said Rebecca. She took a sip of her drink. "It's just that it's not the same without you during swimming lessons. Who else am I going to tease?"

"I'm sure there must be someone," said Faye.

Rebecca looked up as she thought to herself. "How come you're not allowed to go swimming with us, anyway? Just because you haven't started puberty yet? I mean, Jenny's way behind everyone else too and she still goes swimming."

"I'd rather not talk about it." Faye didn't dare to look up from her food. She could already feel herself getting the kind of headache that meant she'd start crying soon if she wasn't careful. She tried to change the subject. "Have you done the new Fryer episode?"

"What, this?" Rebecca pulled a silver disc out of her blazer pocket, holding it up for Faye to see. "You want to try it?"

"I think I could be persuaded." Faye looked up long enough for her eyes to meet Rebecca's. Big mistake. She tried not to think about how they seemed to radiate a sense of playful mischief, or about the curly trusses of auburn hair partially hiding them.

Rebecca handed the disc to Faye, and for an instant, their hands touched as she took it from her.


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